Hot shooting night lifts Raptors to 132-120 victory over Charlotte Hornets

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors finally rediscovered their three-point shooting — and it led to a much-needed victory on Tuesday.

Entering the night as the lowly 29th-ranked team in the league in three-point shooting, the Raptors hit a season high 20 shots from behind the arc en route to a 132-120 victory over the Charlotte Hornets, their second consecutive win.

O.G. Anunoby matched a career-high of six three-pointers on a 22-point night, while Pascal Siakam had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

"We came out obviously just taking the open (shots) and I think we created a lot in transition as well, just kick-out shots that were good ones, so it was pretty good," coach Nick Nurse said. "I'm very happy with making threes and assists and putting points on the scoreboard. It was good to see."

Gary Trent Jr. had 24 points, while Precious Achiuwa had 13, Chris Boucher chipped in with 12, and Fred VanVleet scored 11 for Toronto (18-23).

The Raptors had a season-high 32 assists, and were just shy of their season's best three-point percentage (45.5 per cent vs. their best of 46).

Terry Rozier scored 30 points to top the Hornets (11-31), who have the second worst record in the league.

The Raptors, who host the Hornets again on Thursday, haven't won three in a row all season.

"Let's start (a three-game streak) Thursday," VanVleet said. "What's behind this is behind us. We've got to look to the future and hopefully our best basketball is in front of us, put something together and nobody will remember what the first half of the season looked like.

"We got work to do, we got a lot of work to do, and we haven't been great so far, but I like what we've been able to put together over the last couple games."

Coming off a 117-105 win over Portland two nights earlier that snapped a three-game losing streak, the Raptors clearly carried some momentum into Tuesday, shooting 50 per cent from three-point range through the first half.

Clutching a two-point lead the start the fourth, the Raptors opened the quarter with an 11-5 run punctuated by a Boucher three-pointer that put them up by eight. Anunoby hit consecutive three-pointers, then VanVleet drilled two in just over a minute for a 15-point lead with 3:26 to play.

A basket by LaMelo Ball pulled the Hornets to within 10, but Trent's three followed by a big dunk by Anunoby all but stuffed the Hornets' hopes for a win.

"We're just not paying attention to details and we’re not staying solid on the defensive end," Rozier said. "It's kind of like we're fighting the coach on the right things to do. We need to just crack down and listen. We've just got to start holding each other accountable. We're all grown. It's just what we've got to do."

The Raptors and Hornets looked anything but the league's worst three-point shooting teams (Charlotte is 30th) in the first quarter, shooting a combined 11-for-17 from behind the arc. Siakam had back-to-back threes and 14 points in a tight first quarter that saw neither team lead by more than five points, and Toronto led 35-34 to start the second.

Achiuwa, who'd missed 19 of his previous 20 three-point attempts before Tuesday, went 3-for-3 in the second quarter, including a pair on consecutive possessions that put Toronto up by five. A tip dunk by Boucher made it a nine-point lead with 2:20 left in the half, and Toronto took a 72-66 advantage into the break.

The Hornets shot a sizzling 61.1 per cent in the third quarter and their 13-2 run turned a nine-point Raptors lead into a two-point deficit. Toronto led 96-94 with one quarter to play.

PORTER SURGERY: Otto Porter Jr. is out for the season after having surgery to repair a dislocated toe. Porter, who helped Golden State to an NBA title last season, has only appeared in eight games with the Raptors. He was sidelined early in the season with a hamstring injury, then dislocated his toe on Nov. 14.

"When we tried to get him back in action, tried to ramp it up a little bit, he just wasn't making progress," Nurse said. "He went to see some specialists and in the end, this was the long-term solution for him."

AWARDS: The Raptors won the league's NBA Inclusion Leadership Award for the 2021-22 season.

RED CARPET: Rapper J. Cole, who played five games for the Scarborough Shooting Stars last summer, had a courtside seat Tuesday.

UP NEXT: The Raptors host the Hornets again on Thursday, and then cap their season-long six-game homestand on Saturday against Atlanta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2023.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press